Tahir Hemphill

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Tahir Hemphill
Tahir hemphill 7251325.jpg
Born (1972-05-14) May 14, 1972 (age 50)
New York City, US
EducationMorehouse College
Pratt Institute
Known forCreative technology
Multimedia art

Tahir Hemphill (born May 14, 1972) is an American multimedia artist, ethnolinguist, and design researcher. He developed the Hip Hop Word Count database.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hemphill grew up in New York City, in the Lower East Side neighborhood. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School with a Regents diploma concentration in Electrical Engineering.[2] He is African-American.

Hemphill graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. in Spanish. He has a certificate in Strategic Planning from Miami Ad School. He has a master's degree in Communications Design which he received from Pratt Institute.[2]


Hip-Hop Word Count database[edit]

Hemphill created an ethnographic database of hip-hop lyrics covering the period from 1979 to the present.[3][4] In the database, assets are geotagged and dated according to album release dates. Hemphill calls this data a geography of language in the universe of hip-hop. Hemphill faceted the information with analysis of word count, number of syllables per word, number of letters per word, polysyllabic words, as well as an education and audience reading level rating.[5] Hemphill used Simplified Measure of Gobbledygook ("SMOG") and Flesch–Kincaid readability tests (created by plain English advocate Rudolf Flesch) to evaluate reading levels.[4] Within his analysis of Hip-Hop through a scientific lens, he aims to trace origins of certain slang words, how they move to different communities, and their malleable, fluid meanings in different contexts.[4]

Fellowships, grants, etc.[edit]


Works and publications[edit]


  1. ^ Chaey, Christina (2 April 2013). "Hip-Hop Word Count is a Living, Breathing Database of Every Word in Every Rap Song Ever". Fast Company. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "People: Tahir Hemphill". Eyebeam Art and Technology Center. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  3. ^ Kaganskiy, Julia (11 July 2011). "Is Hip-Hop Making You Stupid? The Hip-Hop Word Count Breaks It Down". The Creators Project. Vice Media. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Wilkinson, Alec (1 April 2013). "Metrics: Rap Sheet". The New Yorker. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b Paterson, Leigh (16 July 2013). "Hip Hop Word Count analyses the culture behind music". BBC News. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Tahir Hemphill | eyebeam.org". eyebeam.org. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  7. ^ "Tahir Hemphill Visual Arts, 2012". Creative Capital. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. ^ "_Hip Hop Word Count". MIT Docubase. 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Tahir Hemphill, Independent Scholar". The Hiphop Archive & Research Institute at Harvard University. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  10. ^ Hemphill, Tahir (2010). "Rap Almanac Visualization of 50 Cent's Career from Hip-Hop Word Count; Rap Almanac Visualization of Jay-Z's Career from Hip-Hop Word Count". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Talk To Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects" (PDF). Museum of Modern Art. 2011. p. 39. Retrieved 20 September 2015.

External links[edit]